Game/Life Balance U.S. Podcast #58: Author Blake J. Harris Talks Oculus, Facebook, and the VR Revolution


Blake J. Harris, the best-selling author of “Console Wars,” has turned his attention to virtual reality with a new book. In “The History of the Future: Oculus, Facebook, and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality” Harris dives into the dramatic, larger-than-life true story behind the founding of Oculus and its quest for virtual reality. In this podcast, he discusses how he got his hands on the story, the twists and turns he encountered, and what’s next for virtual reality. (more…)

GonnaGeek.com Podcast #066 – There Will Be An Iron Man 4… maybe?


This week we discuss how Robert Downey Jr Confirmed there will be an Iron Man 4… kind of. Then we discuss Facebook back tracking on their name policy and how Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo glides through test run. In Stephen’s Geek Stuff he discusses Autosync for Drive by MetaCtrl and finally we discuss the Better Call Saul teaser song.

Want to chime in for a future show? Tweet @gonnageek, email podcast@gonnageek.com or like us at Facebook.com/Gonnageek.

So You’re Afraid of Facebook Messenger Privacy? Look at these other app permissions…


Facebook has come under some intense scrutiny this past week with their drive to move their messaging component out of the main Facebook app. While I’m a firm believer that users should know what they’re getting into when they install apps, for many geeks such as myself it’s been clear all along that this recent move has been blown out of proportion.

If you’re note familiar with the controversy – the issue is that the Facebook Messenger app requires a lot of permission to install, and many people are worried with wording such as the following

  • “Allows the app to record audio with microphone. This permission allows the app to record audio at any time without your confirmation”
  • “Allows the app to call phone numbers without your intervention. This may result in unexpected charges or calls. Malicious apps may cost you money by making calls without your confirmation.”

Of course it’s very easy for the uneducated to blame Facebook on these terms and condition but what many don’t realize is that the referenced security warnings are actually standard Android permission verbiage.

Android operates differently than iOS when an app is installed. With Google’s Android all of the disclaimers/permissions are granted when an app is first installed; however, with Apple many of the permission requests are displayed later when a user actually tries to use the feature which requires the authorization. Now while Google’s verbiage can be perceived as scary, the fact of the matter is that many applications require these permissions but they don’t actually use them in a scary way. For example, let’s say you’re using any messenger that allows you to take a selfie and send it to your chat partner. Most messenger apps have a built in feature to simply access the camera, take the photo and attach it your conversation. If users did not grant the app permission to use the camera, how would it take the photo without exiting the app and taking the photo separately? That seems like an inconvenience. Now you may be concerned about apps reading your contact and their phone numbers, right? Well one of the greatest features of different messengers is the ability to easily add contacts to these apps by matching up their phone numbers to their messenger profile. If the app did not have permission to access your contacts it would be impossible to locate your friends without manual input. So perhaps by now you understand those two points but are saying “Stephen, isn’t it creepy that Facebook can listen and record my audio?” Have you noticed that little grey microphone button at the bottom of Facebook Messenger? Yes, I’m referring to the one that allows you to send an audio message to your chat partner. How exactly is the app going to record your voice-messenger if it doesn’t have permission to use your microphone? Simple – it can’t.

Now while I’m not making any guarantees that Facebook couldn’t (in theory) use the permissions for their own gain, the reality is that this standard permission wording is found on many applications – may of which you may even have installed right now. Every day people sign up for services and agree to terms that they don’t read and the same goes for installing apps on your device and not reading the permissions. If you don’t believe me I’ve compiled some not-so-pretty (my apologies) screenshots of a variety of popular apps and the permissions they require. If you look through the photos you’ll see a lot of the same permissions that Facebook Messenger requires.

Once again I do always think that people should be aware what they’re agreeing to when they use services but I also do think that that in this instance with Facebook things have been greatly blown out of proportion because of some media sites running the story with the “big brother” overtone. While its ultimately up to you whether or not you install the app – I’m won’t be uninstalling my Facebook Messenger anytime soon.

Final Episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Due in 2014



I was a casual fan of Star War: The Clone Wars.  By that, I mean I tuned in from time to time and watched the hyped up episodes.  What I did watch I really enjoyed, and I was looking forward to seeing how the showrunners would wrap up the show.  That’s why the fanboy in me was crushed when The Clone Wars went on an indefinite hiatus after Disney purchased Lucasfilm.

Have no fear Star Wars fans, we will be getting a short run of episodes to properly conclude the series. Supervising Director David Filoni has revealed via Facebook that the remaining episodes, will be released next year.  Here’s the full post:

Star Wars fans – I have some exciting news! We have wrapped production on all of the remaining Star Wars: The Clone Wars episodes, and while that might be sad news in one way, it’s good news in another. It means you will finally get to see them. When, exactly, is a detail I cannot yet share. I can confirm that in early 2014 you will be watching the final episodes of The Clone Wars, including one of Master Yoda’s most challenging missions. So, get ready. We’ve got Clone Wars and Rebels coming at you in 2014. Animated Star Wars is alive and well. Trust in the Force my friends.
– Dave

New movies starting in 2015, the return of Star Wars video games, wrap up of the Clone Wars, and the kickoff of Star Wars Rebels: its a good time for fans of Star Wars.  Stay tuned to see when and where the final episodes of The Clone Wars will be airing.

Bachman’s Best – SDCC 2013


SDCC logo, San Diego Comic Con InternationalThe San Diego Comic Con International, or SDCC 2013, known to some as The San Diego Comic Con, and to others as simply, THE Con. Each year it has grown and grown to become a media juggernaut with epic TV and movie announcements from all the big studios, tons of exclusives, and the greatest geek waiting room in the world, Hall H. For me, the best thing last week was SDCC 2013 and a big part of that, was that I wasn’t there.

Allow me to explain. In a very general sense, I don’t like people. Individuals are great; people are usually stupid, obnoxious, and loud. One on one you can almost always be civil and find the good side of a person, but when you get us in groups, man can we ruin things. So after a few years in military service being crammed into sleeping quarters with far too many people and now spending eight hours a day in an office I usually enjoy the quiet peacefulness of my office when I get home each day.

However, SDCC is the biggest thing each year in the geek world. So with no real love of large masses of humanity waiting in lines, how do you try to get the good without the bad? For me, it’s social media.

Honestly I thought Twitter was one of the dumbest things I had ever heard of when it came out. Then I realized that quite a few comic artists were on Twitter and were using it as a way to share pieces that they were currently working and a large group of them were using it to send out images of the commissions and sketches they were doing at conventions. And here I was living in Idaho without the resources to attend all these lovely conventions, so I got a Twitter account and started following a lot of artists. Pencilers, inkers, colorists, illustrators, cartoonists, a really large amount of artists.

Many of them also have Facebook pages set up. A good place for artists to share artwork, stay in touch with large groups of admirers, and update people on things like their con schedules for the season. Especially for the ones that don’t have dedicated web pages. Between the two, Twitter and Facebook, I see posts and tweets from all of my favorite artists and publishers and keep a fair track of what is going on in the comic book industry. This is never more evident than the weekend of the San Diego Comic Con.

It’s so crazy there that I have actually heard complaints that the people attending now head home usually knowing less than those sitting comfortably at home in the air conditioning watching their computer screens. Is it a great way to keep up? I think so. Is it as much fun as actually going to the con? Probably not. But I have no sunburn or swollen feet. I have not contracted a case of the con crud. And yet I still know that Avengers 2 is going to be The Age of Ultron. The cast for Guardians of the Galaxy looks amazing and specifically Karen Gillan even looks good bald. Plus I know that Zack Snyder made 5000 geeks heads explode when he showed the teaser logo for the second Man of Steel film showing the world that we will indeed finally get a World’s Finest movie. Great stuff all around.

So I didn’t get to go to SDCC this year, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. Also, if your Twitter feed and your Facebook page isn’t constantly bringing you the things you want to see and the things you want to know about, maybe it’s time for a change. Fill your life with the stuff that makes you happy, and excited, and giddy with anticipation. Me, I’m gonna go watch the Riddick Red Band Trailer again.

Facebook admits contact details leaked for 6 million users…


Over the weekend Facebook alerted its users that a security flaw may have accidentally exposed the email and phone number for many users. Don’t worry though, it was only 6 million users.

Facebook advised that the bug was part of the “Download Your Information” feature where users can download the archive of their Facebook account.

The company wrote on Friday explaining the issue “Because of the bug, some of the information used to make friend recommendations and reduce the number of invitations we send was inadvertently stored in association with people’s contact information as part of their account on Facebook… As a result, if a person went to download an archive of their Facebook account through our Download Your Information (DYI) tool, they may have been provided with additional email addresses or telephone numbers for their contacts or people with whom they have some connection.”

When Facebook was alerted of the error they quickly disabled the tool, corrected the issue and had it back up and running the next day.

Facebook further explained the bug “This means, in almost all cases, an email address or telephone number was only exposed to one person. Additionally, no other types of personal or financial information were included and only people on Facebook — not developers or advertisers — have access to the DYI tool.”

Google+ is almost better than Facebook


Google Plus
Over the weekend a long time friend of mine made an announcement that he was going to be less active on Facebook instead spending more time on Google+. While I quite enjoyed Google+ when it launched I found the mobile app to be barely useable and the desktop version to be hit and miss – I was pleasantly surprised at the changes that have been made since my last exploration.

The iOS app has been greatly improved and in my opinion is significantly better than Facebook’s counterpart. Google has configured the app in a fashion that maximizes screen space – items only appear on the screen as needed and they load in a very quick and a slick manner. It’s hard to describe in words how well the app works, but the experience of using the Google+ app actually feels like an application as opposed to Facebook which at times feels like a frame for the mobile Facebook site. I also should note that the app has not crashed once for me yet which is more than can be said for the Facebook app. The app also uses a great balance of colors and icon sizes to help the regularly used items stand out, yet the not-so-often features are easily available when needed.

The desktop experience has also improved and the layout is great for a social network. Rather than making updates show up only in one column, Google+ has several which helps users get a quick snapshot of what’s going on in everyone’s lives – a component that Facebook seems to have forgot about over the years. I also want to note that with Google+ there is a prominent bar at the top which makes it easy to view updates based on circles if you desire.

Now, while I think that Google+ is miles ahead of Facebook as far as layout and technical operations go you might be wondering why they aren’t taking more of the market share? For me it comes down to two main issues.

Pages. The pages on Google+ are not the easiest to navigate or configure. They leave a lot to be desired from a business standpoint too. Google+ should take some time to make pages more functional.

Circles. While the concept of a circle is fantastic (let’s be honest, you might not want your mom seeing some of the stuff you post) it’s not the easiest thing for people to comprehend. It’s hard to explain to a newcomer that just because you’ve added someone to your circles it doesn’t mean that you’ll see them in your feed. It’s also hard to explain that even when someone adds you back it doesn’t mean you’ll get their posts. People go on social networks to do just that – be social. While from a privacy sense the circles concept works, it does make the Google+ suffer in the social aspect.

Overall I am really impressed with the changes Google+ is making and I hope they continue on the upward trend. I’d love to see a significant migration away from Facebook and toward Google+, but without some important changes it isn’t going to happen. With that said, I’m going to start making an active effort to be on it more – I’ve fallen in love with their app.

Why the Facebook Apps Irritate Me…


As you may know I now regularly use both iOS and Android and one thing that irritates me is no matter how big the company is their apps always seem to offer different experiences – even Facebook. What really bugs me is that Facebook itself operates so differently between Android vs iOS that the actual social experience is greatly impacted.

On a functionality standpoint, the iOS app has become somewhat reliable, yet on several occasions I’ve found that my Android version of Facebook doesn’t load correctly and instead I resort to hitting Facebook.com directly. Now, putting that “quirk” aside, I’ve found that when the Android Facebook app is operating correctly, often the feed items displayed on my Nexus is greatly different than those shown on my iPhone. Where it gets even more irritating is when you then view the items from the mobile Facebook.com site only to discover that also shows different items. In my opinion something is wrong with there being three different user experiences from all three of my mobile platforms.

While I understand that iPhone users want their apps to feel like iOS and Android users want it to feel like Android, I don’t understand why Facebook feels that the actual content experience needs to vary. Quite frankly I find I’ve found it so annoying that I’ve been using the site less and less. I understand that there will never be a unity of cross-platform app layout or structure, but from such a large company I would expect the end experience to be the same. Perhaps Facebook’s upcoming changes will yield a step in the right direction.

Facebook Messenger VoIP, eh?


As a Canadian citizen I often find as new products are rolled out in other countries, I’m left waiting months for them to get to Canada. Any Canadian citizen will tell you that often the Canadian equivalent of popular US-based services leave a lot to be desired (Amazon & Netflix to name a couple). I read an article today that has one company putting Canadians ahead of the rest of the world and the company doing so may surprise you: Facebook.

Facebook is introducing a voice over IP (VoIP) feature for their messenger service which will essentially allow users to call each other over data (via Facebook Messenger) instead of using up their mobile minutes. The feature is currently in a testing phase and they have chosen none other than the great white north (Canada) to do test it in. The feature is supposed to be automatically enabled for Canadian users; however, I’m curious how they are going to determine people’s region. For example, if they choose to base it on your Facebook locations what will happen if users signed up with their hometown being US but now live in Canada, or will they go an easier route and base it on IP address.

I decided to give the feature a shot and while I didn’t get a chance to use it on a long call, my brief experience with it so far has been quite positive. I had decided to call my wife over the iPhone app and I have to admit that the call sounded just as clear, if not clearer, than when using Skype to call iPhone to iPhone. The call connected at a very reasonable speed and the interface was extremely easy to use. The only flaw I could really find was that the background noise cancellation needs some work as I could hear the TV clearer than any other phone-to-phone voice service I’ve used. Considering this feature is in the testing phases I am very impressed with my experience so far.

Admittedly I’ve never been much of a Facebook Messenger user in the past, but as I find more involvement outside of the iOS platform I find myself in search for an alternate messenger that can be used on the majority of platforms I use. Facebook has been making some good changes to their messenger service and this recent feature seems to indicate to me that they are getting very serious about their messenger service. With over 1 billion users on Facebook, if the company can build a multi-platform client that offers the features of iMessage, Skype and BlackBerry Messenger combine, I think they could become the premiere messaging service.

iOS Must Have Apps


During the holiday season I’m sure that Apple iOS products are going to be popular gifts.  These devices are pretty cool on their own, but to really unlock their potential there are some apps that are incredibly useful to have.  Since I’ve been using my iOS devices for a few years, I thought I’d take a chance to share what some of my ‘must have’ apps are.  Most of the time I look at the free apps, but there are a few apps on this list that will come with a price tag attached to them.  This list is the top 13 apps you will want to load up as soon as you can.  Trust me, these apps will just add to your device.

  1. Facebook (Free) – In today’s world almost everyone has a Facebook account. In fact, Facebook support is baked into iOS 6.  But, in order to make use of the native OS support for Facebook you first have to install the app.  With the app in place you can use Siri to send Facebook updates, or even update your status from the notification bar.  The Facebook dev team has done a good job of improving the app so that now it works pretty smoothly.  Gone are the days it would take 30 seconds to refresh your news feed.
  2. Tweetbot ($2.99 iPad, $2.99 iPhone/iPod) – Yes, I know it sucks that there are two versions of the app.  In fact I held off on getting this app for a long time because I didn’t want to pay for the app twice.  I was lucky and found the iPad version on sale and then made the leap to Tweetbot.  If you use Twitter a lot and have multiple accounts Tweetbot is a power tool.  If you use Tweetbot across multiple iOS devices there is a feature that you will love.  Tweetbot uses iCloud to sync your timeline across your devices.  This means regardless of the device you use your timeline will always start where you left off.  Believe you me, this is very useful.  Another feature I love in the Tweetbot app is the ability to mute users or even hashtags.  For example if you follow someone who is going on a tweet spree you can use Tweetbot to mute them for as short as a day or as long as forever.  I’ve looked long and hard for the perfect Twitter app, and this is best one I’ve found so far.
  3. Google Chrome (Free) – If you aren’t a fan of the native Safari browser then Chrome is the browser for you.  If you’ve used Chrome on a desktop computer then the iOS version will be very familiar for you.  Some of the great features here are the ability to sync your Chrome bookmarks via the cloud across all of your devices.  This means if I bookmark something on my laptop the next time I open Chrome on my iPad this bookmark will show up on the tablet.  Chrome also lets you see what tabs are open on your other devices and then open them on your tablet.  This is incredibly useful if you looked up a restaurant on your laptop and then forgot to e-mail the results to yourself.  Just open the remote tab and then you have the same information.
  4. Google Maps (Free) – When Apple removed Google Maps from iOS devices in the iOS 6 update many users were upset.  The Apple Maps app just wasn’t up to par with what Google had been offering.  Well now you are in luck as Google just recently released the Google Maps app on iOS.  This app has all the features you like in the browser version of maps but in the palm of your hand.  Go ahead and try Apple Maps but make sure you have Google Maps as a backup on your device.
  5. YouTube (Free) – When Apple updated to iOS 6 the native YouTube app was removed from iOS devices.  Users could still reach YouTube via a web browser but the user experience wasn’t quite the same.  Google has released an app that influenced the redesign of the YouTube homepage. The app will track all of your subscriptions and provides a better full screen experience than my Google Chrome browser provided.
  6. Netflix (Free) – Keep in mind the app is free but you have to subscribe to Netflix to view any streaming content.  This app lets you stream over Wi-Fi and cellular data so wherever you are you can be entertained by the vast streaming library.  If you have Netflix then this app is a must have.
  7. Amazon Instant Video (Free) – Much like the Netflix app this is the most useful if you have an Amazon Prime account.  However, you can buy/rent Amazon videos via the app interface as well. This app was just released for iPhone/iPod devices so you can watch Amazon content on any of your devices.
  8. Stitcher (Free) – If you listen to a lot of podcasts like I do, then this app is going to be useful.  So long as a podcast is cached on Stitcher you can listen to it at anytime.  Not only that, but you can bookmark where you are in a podcast and then continue from that bookmarked location on any of your devices.  A lot of newer cars are coming with built in support for Stitcher in the stereo system.  In fact, I use this app to listen to podcasts on my commute to and from work.
  9. TuneIn Radio (Free or $0.99 for the Pro Version) – If you like to listen to conventional radio then this app will be one you like.  A variety of radio stations are listed within this app and you can listen to them via an Internet connection.  This app even allows you to pause a stream temporarily.
  10. Flipboard (Free) – I love this app, in fact its one of my favorite ones.  If you like to read up on a variety of topics then Flipboard is the app for you.  The app aggregates stories via RSS and then arranges them in a magazine like fashion on your devices.  You flip through pages of topics that interest you.  For instance I have categories for technology, movies, and comics on my account.  The app lets you add from a variety of categories and has a fantastic user interface.
  11. Pocket (Free) – This app is incredibly useful when used in conjunction with Tweetbot and Flipboard.  The basic premise is you can save stories to read later.  Support for Pocket is baked into Flipboard and Tweetbot, but once you have a Pocket account you can e-mail articles in that you want to read later.  When you have time to get back to your saved stories just open up the app and they will all be available for your reading pleasure.  I use this app a lot to save news stories I want to write/talk about later.
  12. Find iPhone (Free) – This is a must have for all of your devices. Simply put, it use the location services, aka the GPS, to find any of your iOS devices if they should go missing.  The app places all of your devices on a map and gives options to have them make a noise, display a message, lock the device, or in a worst case scenario wipe the device clean of all your data.
  13. Skype (Free) – If you use Skype this puts it right on your device.  The app allows for both voice and video calls on any kind of data connection.

If you’ve read through this list, you’re probably thinking ‘where are the games?’  Well stay tuned for a later article where I’ll cover some of my favorite iOS games.